Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flying the White Flag

Sometimes you just have to admit you need help and today I made that call.
I’ve been waging a battle for as long as we’ve lived here against the deer.  Do not misunderstand me, I love them, I think they are beautiful and my heart breaks for them.  They don’t want to be in my yard, they don’t want to be forced to eat roses and wineberries because all other food sources are gone.  The problem is they have no natural predators anymore, no means of keeping populations in check and they are quickly running out of room.  So they end up in my yard, eating my plants and making me most unhappy.
I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks researching deer fencing and attempting to plan out how to fence off a portion of Logs End to protect the most edible of my plants from the deer.  After much discussion and measuring we came up with a plan and turned it in for a quote.  When I got the reply today I had to laugh, it’s the cost of a seven day trip to a private island that all inclusive with airfare and extras…yeah it’s THAT much!  There is no way this side of Atlantis that I’m paying that much for some plastic fencing, nope not happening.  So I did what any sane gardener who is utterly in over her head in a battle with Mom Nature, I called a professional landscape designer. 
The hope is that she will be able to draw up a full yard/garden plan that will help me place as much existing deer food as possible in a central area that can easily be protected (read that not as fence but as spraying, repelling and otherwise foiling the deer) and using the we don’t eat it unless there is absolutely nothing else available in a eye pleasing manner.
Stay tuned….

Monday, May 28, 2012

That’s NOT a Mason Bee!

Ok so I had this wasp looking thing show up in my laundry room and it looked different so I took a picture before it flew away.

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Well, today there was another one in there and I thought, hmmm wonder if they are coming out of the mason bee tubes?  So I took those to the garage and went to release the second one. Well there was one flying around the mason beehive.

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Which worried me, are they eating the mason bees? Are they injuring the larva in some way?  I contacted Crown Bees to see if they knew what it was, but Dave didn’t. So it was time for some outreach to one of my trusted bug identification sites Bug Guide.  While the majority of the people on the site are just like me or you, I think there are some real bug gurus too!  In any event it didn’t take long for my ‘friend’ to be identified as a Potter Wasp, scientific name of Monobia quadridens.  This wasp is a ‘green’ wasp in that they believe in reusing old homes from other solitary wasp/bees like mud daubers and mason bees.  They are pollen eaters and they use caterpillars as food for their babies, so no harm to my mason bees.  Now my only concern, I don’t know how many of my mason bee reeds and tubes have mason bees versus potter wasp!  Time will tell….

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honeybees, Mason Bees and Worms…

So today I went and checked on the girls, they are busy as ever and we are up to at least 6 combs now.  Their feeder was empty though, so I came back and made up some syrup for them and after it cooled took it down to replace the empty container.  They don’t seem to really mind me mucking around in there which is a really good thing.  No I didn’t take pictures, still haven’t gotten that spy cam!
The other cool, well I think it’s cool thing are the Mason bees.
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Not the best house for them as I can’t easily protect it yet as the bags haven’t been released for sale.  Mason bee larva are prayed on by parasitic wasp, birds and mites so as soon as the females stop laying you are to gather your tubes and reeds.  Well I did that for my other houses that were full, yes full and the summer bees aren’t even here yet!
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I’ve got or order some more reeds and was happy to see that they’ve even come out with a protective case for the paper tubes as those are the ones that are most susceptible to the wasp.  I know nature has her way of things but sometimes the good guys need help!
I realized that the worms haven’t gotten many pixels lately and they are much easier to photograph than the bees lol.  I’ve been feeding them a couple times a week with kitchen scraps stuff like strawberry tops, egg shells, coffee, tea bags (that don’t have staples) and just about everything else that they will eat, which is just about everything. 
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Remember this is what the first tray looked like?
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This is what it looks like today, not much left in there.  Most have moved up into the second tray (image below) and that is where all the food scraps go now and will keep going till it gets full. Then I’ll add another tray to the mix and the bottom one will be able emptied and the one they are in now will become the bottom.
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I’m liking the worms a lot, they are super low maintenance and are taking care of my kitchen scraps!  I’ve said it plenty I know, but I’m just not a fussy person that goes for plants, pets and hobbies, so ease of care ranks up there with me!
Have a great day!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Planning…

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It’s all rather green isn’t it?  A stroll around the gardens and I see green, everywhere.  Barely a flower blooming in most places. Odd, odd weather we are having. I also see weeds, weeds and oh yeah, more weeds that need to be in the very least thinned out.
I need to get into this area and get some of the lamium out, it’s happy here, just like the woodland poppies are.  I’m fond of those, they spread and even if the deer eat some it’s ok lol!
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Proof is in the picture that I never got around to thinning out the pollinators paradise here. There is a lot going on in here, a lot missing too.  Not a single milkweed or butterfly weed has survived.  It’s the first time in six years that I haven’t not had the common milkweed.  Last year all of my swap milkweeds died and now my butterfly weed hasn’t come back.  I can only attribute this to the weather but I really have no idea.  Once the bog area is done, I’ll try the swap milkweeds again.
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I took this picture on Friday but it doesn’t look like that now. We’ve pulled all the rocks away from the lower end of the pond in preparation for a new wall/planting area.  We are also plotting..er planning a new stream and waterfall, that of course is if either of us can ever get the vision out of our head for the other to ‘see’.
I’ve still got plans floating around in my head for that area behind the hammock. I want to gather all my hosta (sans the one at the front of the house, but maybe some of them too) and move them, some hellebores, heuchera and some other woodland plants for this area.
The gazebo needs it’s roof still and if someone doesn’t get off the pot about it soon, they are going to find me taking care of it in a way that will probably be much more costly.  It took YEARS to get it to the point that it’s at now, I don’t want to wait YEARS for the roof!!!
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What a mess!  The loss of the maple that was here (we had to cut it down) left this area difficult to plant in.  The roots (because I wouldn’t let them use a stump grinder) were in masse but are now easily (relatively) removed. So I can begin to plant..now if only I could really decide what to do here… Hmmm I wonder if….
A gardeners dreams are never done….

What kind of gardener are you?

  Recently in an attempt to find some other gardeners to chat with, I joined several gardening groups on facebook.  It all seemed so normal...